Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazon's Latest Blunder

Over the weekend, in a move that defied any logic, Amazon suddenly removed all gay and lesbian themed books from their top-selling and recommended lists. This sparked thousands of Tweeters and Bloggers to start posting. Using the hashtag '#amazonfail' the entire incident became the most talked about topic on Twitter almost overnight. Suddenly we have a prime example of what Social Media can do when a business does something stupid. It also doesn't help that Amazon failed to properly monitor their online reputation.

So what happened?

While Amazon remained mostly quiet all weekend with the only explanation of the event coming from Patty Smith, Amazon's director of corporate communications, that the event was a 'glitch', Gawker reported that the hacker Weev had claimed credit for the whole thing. He was quoted as saying it was an "exploitation of a vulnerability in Amazon's product-rating tools." This in turn drove a large amount of interest in the hashtag #glitchmyass.

Amazon has since responded saying the incident was "embarrassing and ham-fisted", giving no further insight into the origin of the mess. However, it isn't really important if the event was a glitch or the work of a hacker. The main point of all this is that Amazon completely failed to monitor social media and online conversation. If they had had any sort of reasonable system in place they should have been able to deal with the whole thing much faster then they did.

This is just another example of why companies can't turn-off and go home for the weekend. The rest of us don't sleep, and if something goes wrong we're going to talk about it!

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